The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 13, 2014

Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Another ‘P’ joins likes of Palm Springs and Palm Beach

PITTSBURG, Kan. — While Palm Springs or Palm Beach may come to mind first for those considering where to spend their golden years, it turns out there’s another city that starts with a “P” that has been recognized as a great place to retire.

I’m talking about Pittsburg.

I became a resident at 3 months old when my schoolteacher parents moved here from Liberty, Mo., in search of a smaller, quieter town in which to raise a family.

We were centrally located between Mom’s family in Duquesne, Mo., and Dad’s family in Erie, meaning we were within 35 minutes of a sleepover at either grandmother’s house.

I’m guessing that at that time, retirement for them — or me — was not at the forefront of their minds.

But last week, messages began flooding my inbox that said Pittsburg has been recognized as a great place to do just that — in fact, it’s No. 1 in Kansas, according to the real estate research blog Movoto.

Its 2014 list of the 10 best places to retire in Kansas was the result of a study in which Movoto staff members looked at cities with a population of at least 10,000.

They ranked those cities according to cost of living, crime rates, weather, ease of travel and amenities per capita. Pittsburg was at the top.

Following Pittsburg in the ranking of 36 cities were, in order: Newton, Arkansas City, Haysville, El Dorado, Wichita, Leawood, Derby, Parsons and Overland Park.

In the plus column for the city I’ve called home for nearly 44 years, researchers cited its libraries, including Axe Library at Pittsburg State University and the Pittsburg Public Library. The latter has in recent years begun offering a diverse roster of programs, speakers, workshops, book discussion groups, audio books and book sales, all of which I’ve observed seniors taking an interest in.

The study also noted restaurants that have prices and menus appealing to an older clientele, the number and diversity of health care providers, and plenty of easily accessible places to shop, including Meadowbrook Mall — which for at least a few decades also has provided a place for seniors to walk laps during inclement weather — as positives.

The report cited arts and entertainment opportunities as being plentiful. It is hard to pick up a calendar and not find a concert, play or other performance listed at PSU, Pittsburg High School or Memorial Auditorium, and the Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Department has monthly gatherings and outings for the senior crowd.

And finally, researchers scored Pittsburg’s weather — meaning air quality and the number of mild days — as a plus.

The report somewhat missed the mark in noting that from Pittsburg, seniors have access to an “international airport” just 27 miles away. While Joplin, Mo., isn’t offering international flights just yet that I know of, it does provide ease in catching a domestic flight to go visit family or take a vacation.

It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that my mom and the parents of my former classmates now fit the category of “retired.” Perhaps it’s because they don’t seem like it. They’re still active — not just in leisure pursuits but in volunteerism, in helping to raise grandchildren, and as members of civic and charitable organizations that contribute a great deal to our quality of life here in Pittsburg.

Maybe, just maybe, Pittsburg is playing a role in keeping them young.

FOLLOW ANDRA BRYAN STEFANONI on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

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